Tag Archives: Blogging advice

Big Changes to Google’s Star Systems (And What They Mean for You)

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Here’s a hypothetical for you: Say you’re looking to purchase a new product of some kind, but you don’t really know much about it, or where to get it. You need to gather some information. You need to do some research. So where do you head? The answer, of course, is Google. That’s where consumers do their research these days—and it’s where they make most of their decisions about which products to buy and which local businesses to visit.

One way in which consumers make their purchasing decisions is to consult with Google’s star system. If you see a local company with a one-star rating, you’d probably think twice before giving them your business, right? You’d at least look around for competitors. And on the flipside, if a business has a five-star Google score, you’d feel a lot more confident shopping there.

The implication for businesses is that Google star ratings matter—they matter for your bottom line. That’s why, when Google makes changes to its star system, small business owners need to sit up and take notice.

What’s Changed with Google’s Star System?

As it happens, Google has made changes to its star rating scale. Here’s the change: It used to be that Google only gave star ratings for businesses with at least five reviews. Now, Google has lowered the threshold—and some businesses are receiving Google ratings on the basis of a single review!

What this means is that, more than ever before, every single online review you get matters. A single one-star review could totally sink your Google score, especially if it’s the only review you have. Meanwhile, a single five-star review could be all it takes to send your company toward a perfect score.

How to Be Proactive About Your Google Reviews

Our advice to business owners: Don’t leave your Google stars to chance. Be proactive in getting your full five-star score! Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your Google review link is clearly displayed on your website and on social media profiles.
  • Actively ask your customers to leave you their feedback. Include a request on invoices and receipts.
  • Go as far as to send an email to all your best, most loyal customers, and simply explain to them how meaningful a quick review would be.
  • Sweeten the deal! Offer a $5 Starbucks gift card or a promo code to people who take the time to leave you a review.
  • Include your Google review link on your email signature.

There are a lot of strategies that can get results, and we’d love to help you execute a good one. Contact Grammar Chic today to learn more! Reach out to our team at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways to Improve Your Website’s Internal Linking

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Internal linking is one of the backbones of search engine optimization. It’s one of the things that separates a mediocre website from a truly stellar one. Providing links that connect the different pages of your website is a small and simple thing you can do that could yield big results.

Internal linking is significant for a number of reasons. One is that it makes it easier for Google search bots to crawl your pace. Another, just as important reason is that it makes it easier for your customers to find the information they want. Internal links keep people on your page, which reduces your bounce rate, and they can also boost the SEO value of the pages you’re linking.

The bottom line? Spending some time on an internal linking strategy is certainly prudent, and can certainly pay off. The question is, what can you do to get internal linking right?

Here are five tricks of the trade.

Link to Content-Heavy Pages

Let’s say you write a 1,000-word blog post. You definitely want to insert a couple of internal links, but you don’t want to waste them on parts of your website that are low on content value—like a generic “Contact Us” page.

Think about it this way: The pages you link to should be resources for your reader, providing them with additional information that enhances their experience. As such, it’s best to link to pages that provide further details or delve into related topics… pages that actually provide enriching, value-adding content, not just boilerplate.

Use Descriptive Anchor Text

The anchor text refers to the actual words on the page that you make into a hyperlink—and choosing the right anchor text can add real value to those links. That’s why you never want to link to bland, boring, or valueless text like click here.

Consider this: You want to provide a link to a recent blog post about the best Instagram strategies. You can make the words blog post into your anchor text, or the words best Instagram strategies. Which of these do you think offers more link value? The more descriptive option is always going to be the better one. Be wise in including good, colorful anchor text with every link.

Include a Couple of Internal Links on Every Page

How many internal links should you feature in each post, or on each page? There’s no hard and fast rule here, and different SEOs will tell you different things, but we’d recommend at least a couple. Remember that each link boosts the “freshness value” of the page you’re linking to, so you might as well take advantage of each opportunity.

Be Logical with Your Links

With that said, we also recommend being wise: You don’t want to appear like you’re spamming your reader, or bombarding your website users with links. Make sure the links you include are relevant. For example, a Grammar Chic blog post about Facebook ads probably shouldn’t link to a separate post about resume writing. That’s just not a logical connection.

Update Your Links Often

Remember that broken links decrease your site usability and its SEO value. Meanwhile, when you write a really good piece of new content, you may want to include links to it from older, relevant posts. Routine link audits and updates are essential.

Of course, linking is an integral part of your broader content marketing strategy—and that’s something the Grammar Chic team can help you put into place. Learn more by calling us today for a free consultation. Reach Grammar Chic’s content marketing team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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7 Ways to Get Maximum Value from Your Company Blog Posts

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Just because you hit publish on a new company blog post, share it on social media, and email it to the folks on your subscription list, doesn’t mean the blog post is through. On the contrary, there are plenty of ways to repurpose older content and wring more value from it.

There are many benefits to repurposing old content, regardless of whether that content performed well or it didn’t. If you’ve got a blog post that failed you, repurposing it might allow you to give it a new lease on life—to salvage it and derive some value from all your hard work. Conversely, if you have a really popular and high-performing post, repurposing it can allow you to harness that momentum and reach even more people with your message.

And there are a number of effective ways to breathe new life into an older blog post, too. Here are seven that the Grammar Chic team recommends.

Update Older Posts

In most industries, trends shift and best practices change over time. As such, it may be worthwhile to revisit your most popular posts every year or so and see if a new iteration is needed. You can revise an older post with new statistics or trends, then share it all over again.

Optimize Older Posts

It can also be worth revisiting older posts to tweak their SEO features—inserting new title tags, meta descriptions, and keywords for some of your most effective posts, drawing on new analytics and more recent data.

Turn a Blog Post into an Infographic

Pull out the main talking points and put them into image form. Then share that image widely on your social media platforms!

Break Down Larger Posts

Often, a comprehensive, big-picture post can be whittled down into three or four smaller posts, which delve into specific topics a little more deeply. Provide readers with one overview post, and then some smaller supporting posts that get down into the nitty gritty.

Turn Long Posts into Downloadable Offers

You can also expand your more in-depth posts and format them into e-books or white papers, making them available as downloads on your company website.

Use Your Blog as Fodder for a Webinar

We’re big believers in webinars, and we know that sometimes a popular blog post can provide the blueprint you need for a really compelling online presentation.

Split a Post into an Email Series

A final thought: You can dissect a blog post and draw a few 50-to-100-word blurbs from it, then use those in an email series—a great way of providing added value to your subscribers!

Of course, all of this starts with creating compelling blog posts—and for that, we’re here to help. Contact the ghostwriting team at Grammar Chic today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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How to Overcome Writer’s Block (And Generate Better Blog Topics)

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Content marketing requires constant engagement. It’s like a beast that must continually be fed. You can’t slack off, or take a month off from content creation; there are always new blog posts to be written, new social media updates to share, new emails to send. If you stop moving—if you stop hustling—your audience will shrink and your efforts will come up short.

This can obviously lead to some obstacles. Take blogging as an example. When you’re tasked with developing new, unique, creative blog posts every single day, it can be draining. You may find yourself developing a case of writer’s block, even as you also realize that you don’t have that luxury. You’ve got to keep writing—but how can you come up with a fresh topic to write about, without simply plundering and repurposing older ideas?

There are some simple habits that can prove effective in pumping those creative juices, and providing you with the fresh insights and ideas you need.

Have Regular Brainstorming Sessions

You may be the person who is tasked with writing the company blog posts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some help sparking your creativity. Meet with team members once a month or so and ask them for their thoughts. What are some of the questions that customers have been asking them? What are some of the topics they’ve detected interest in? How do they see the blog being improved, made more useful and informative? These brainstorming sessions can generate new perspectives you may not have thought of otherwise.

Look Through Your Customer Correspondence

Make a habit of regularly reading your recent customer emails or social messages, and take note of the questions or concerns that people are bringing up. Those are things people want to hear more about. Those are the pain points. And those can make for really timely and relevant blog posts.

Consider Your Hobbies

We’ve written articles comparing content marketing to The Walking Dead and to Mad Men—because we happen to really like those shows. Are there activities or passions in your personal life that you could translate into blog posts? Think about the things you care most about, outside of the office, and ask yourself how these things intersect with your professional life.

Subscribe to Other Industry Blogs

This one is simple: When you see another industry blog that you admire, bookmark it, or subscribe to the RSS feed. Make a habit of at least skimming through these posts from your competitors, and using them as potential launch pads for your own posts. (Obviously, you need to make sure you’re putting your own spin on things, not pilfering posts wholesale.)

These are all basic habits you can form that will keep your good-idea machine hoppin’. If you need an extra hand, though, we’re always around. Contact Grammar Chic’s ghostwriters at 803-831-7444 or at www.grammarchic.net.

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6 Lessons for Any First-Time Business Blogger

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Are you just starting out on your journey into business blogging? If so, congratulations! You’re taking your first step into the broader, brighter world of content marketing—and in due time, you’ll start to see some positive effects.

Just consider some of the statistics: Four out of five U.S. online consumers trust the information they see on business blogs; companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links than those who do not; the overwhelming majority of companies that blog regularly have acquired customers directly because of their blog. And that’s to say nothing of the less quantifiable, but still significant, advantages of brand recognition and thought leadership.

But all of that is based on the premise that you’re not only blogging, but blogging well. The latter is by no means a given! So what do you, as a business blogging novice, need to know in order to get it right?

We’ll list six things we think everyone should know when launching a new company blog.

No. 1. Your blog setup matters.

It’s not enough to write compelling, enriching content. The actual, technical setup of your blog matters. A WordPres.org blog will offer more options than a WordPress.com one; above all, however, you want to make sure your blog is hosted on a reliable server and that it’s easy to find from your company home page.

No. 2. You should schedule some time for blogging.

Blogging only works when it’s consistent—and you’re simply not going to be consistent if you have an “I’ll blog whenever I have a free moment” mentality. You need to actually schedule some blocks of time on your calendar to devote to blog content creation.

No. 3. You never blog in a vacuum.

Hopefully you have e-mail marketing and social media marketing instruments in place—but if not, that needs to be a top priority: You simply won’t get the kind of blog readership you’re hoping for unless you share posts to your social media followers and your e-mail newsletter subscribers. Content distribution is really just as important as content creation.

No. 4. You’ll have a hard time measuring your blog’s success without Google Analytics.

Make sure you install Analytics and review them regularly; for help interpreting your data, you can always contact Grammar Chic.

No. 5. There’s no formula for blogging success…

… but if there was one, it would probably be something like this: Quality + Consistency = Success. Write compelling and actionable posts that provide real value to the reader, and update the blog on a regular basis. That matters much more than just throwing up new, possibly shoddy content every day.

No. 6. You don’t need to freak out about SEO…

… but you should make sure you write meta descriptions for each post, and use some general topics and ideas as keywords, guiding you in your writing of lean, focused posts.

Note that if you have any trouble setting up an effective, value-adding blog, or posting new content with consistency, you can always contact the Grammar Chic team. We’re around when you need us: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Blogging Blunders: Don’t Regress in 2016!

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We’re now more than a month into a new calendar year—and a new chance for your company to excel in its blogging endeavors.

Don’t blow it.

Business blogging can be an invaluable way to build credibility and trust; to cultivate authority and thought leadership; to engage readers and to drive traffic to your website. But that’s all assuming you’re blogging well. That’s all assuming you aren’t falling prey to classic blogging blunders, or regressing in your business blogging practices.

We’ll show you what we mean: A few blogging faux pas that are easy enough to make, but potentially lethal to your overall marketing goals.

Writing Posts, but Not Augmenting Them

A good blog post isn’t just about the words on the page—though obviously, those are important! It’s really about the overall presentation. And if you don’t have compelling images, infographics, embedded videos, and/or social sharing buttons, your presentation leaves something to be desired.

Writing to Nobody in Particular

Quick: Who’s your audience? What are the demographics? What are the values and pain points? It’s critical to keep these things in mind as you blog. You can write the best blog post in the world, but if you’re writing to the wrong crowd, it won’t make any impact on your readers.

Writing, but Not Sharing

A great blog post means absolutely nothing if it never gets seen—if it never gets read. That’s where social media comes into play. The minute you publish a new post, your next step should be spreading the post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest—you name it. Don’t let your content just sit there. Pass it around.

Writing About Stale Topics

Don’t beat a dead horse. If you’ve written about a topic in the past and it hasn’t gotten you any results, there’s no point in resurrecting it. Move on to something your readers actually care about.

Writing Without Linking

A good blog post is like an information hub: Not only does it provide insight of its own, but it points readers toward some related resources and avenues for further learning. Internal and external links can really add depth and context to a solid blog post.

One way to take your blogging to the next level this year: Hire a ghostblogger. Contact Grammar Chic to start the conversation: 803-831-744, or www.grammarchic.net.

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How Many Keywords Do I Need in My Company Blog Posts?

image1We’re approached by a lot of small business owners who are looking to hire us as ghostbloggers—and we’ll be honest with you: While many of these entrepreneurs are mostly concerned with decent, brand-enhancing content, there are also plenty of them who are keyword-obsessed. And we don’t blame them. If you spend much time reading SEO blogs, you’re going to come away with the notion that it’s keywords, more than anything else, that determine the search engine rankings for any given piece of content.

The keyword question we get asked most frequently, of course, is how many do I need? Or, to be more accurate, what’s the ideal keyword density? Should three percent of the words in my blog entries be keywords? 13 percent? 30 percent?

We’re going to address the question, but here’s a quick spoiler: There’s not necessarily a specific, target number that you all need to hit. Sorry to disappoint, but we’re not going to be giving away any such easy answers. However, we will make a few general comments that we hope can be meaningful:

  1. First of all, SEO does matter, and keywords can be quite helpful. If you don’t have the phrase “custom bird calls” anywhere in your blog, then it’s just not going to rank very well for people who search for “custom bird calls”—plain and simple. Plus, picking one focus keyword for your blog helps give it some shape, and it helps you keep your writing on track.
  2. Keyword placement can yield diminishing returns. This video from Google’s chief search bigwig Matt Cutts is several years old now, but the information in it is still true. Using one keyword will flag the search engine’s attention; a couple more will reinforce that your blog is indeed about that topic; eventually, you start to see diminishing returns; and finally, you get into a place where you’re keyword stuffing or just writing gibberish, and that will likely land you with a search engine penalty.
  3. You want to avoid keyword stuffing. We cannot emphasize that point enough. You can’t cheat your way to search engine success by typing “custom bird calls” 35 times in a 400 word article. Google is way too smart to fall for that!
  4. Keyword placement matters. Small business owners can sometimes be so obsessed with keyword density that they forget about keyword placement—but instead of focusing on how many keywords you have, you might want to think about ensuring you’ve got one in your title, perhaps somewhere in the meta description, in whatever big header you have on the page, and so on. Think about positions of prominence to optimize keyword use.
  5. You really just want to write organically. Think of a keyword and use it to bring focus to your writing—but from there, you really don’t need to waste a lot of time counting, or worrying about the benefits of five as opposed to four keyword placements. Just write naturally, and in most cases that’ll turn out just fine.

So to recap: We don’t have a specific number for you. (And you should be skeptical of those who say they do!) What we recommend is picking a good keyword to hang your blog post on, making sure you have it in strategic locations, but beyond that just focusing on writing a good, helpful, natural-sounding article—and if you need help, just hit up Grammar Chic at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Write Killer Meta Descriptions

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If your aim is to write engaging content, it’s important to pay attention to every single written component, from the headline down through your call to action. Of course, this also includes the meta description.

The meta description is sometimes an afterthought—in fact, some content writers don’t author one at all, leaving Google to create one automatically. Actually, the meta description is nearly as important as your headline in terms of getting eyeballs onto the page. If you’re not sure what a meta description is, go to Google and conduct a search; it doesn’t matter what you search for. Once the Search Engine Results Page comes up, look at each individual result. You will see a blue link, and underneath it a line or two of descriptive/summarizing text.

That is the meta description—basically, the summary of your content that all search engine users will see. This can obviously play a huge role in convincing people to click the link and read your content—or, you know, convincing them to do the opposite. As such, writing engaging content requires you to write an engaging meta description, and then to add it to your page. (If you are working with a CMS like WordPress, you will see a field for entering a custom meta description; if you have a professional webmaster, you can get the webmaster to do it for you.)

But what do you need to know in order to make a really killer meta description?

Tips for Writing Compelling Meta Descriptions

A few pointers:

Make it brief, but not too brief. Your meta description should be somewhere between 130 and 150 characters. If you go over that limit, you run the risk of Google clipping it, leaving you with an incomplete sentence at the end of your meta description. But if you just use 60 characters or so, you’re not really making full use of this important online real estate. Try to avail yourself of that space by hitting 130 characters or so, then wrapping things up.

Make it active. Don’t use the passive voice, but instead use strong, compelling verbs. You can basically phrase your summary like a call to action, perhaps even leading with a strong invitation to discover, explore, encounter, or something similar.

Make it accurate. Your meta description should actually summarize the content itself; don’t try anything tricky or misleading. Google doles out harsh penalties for this kind of manipulation.

Make it keyword rich. Don’t stuff it with a dozen keywords, and don’t make it sound forced or inorganic, but do include whatever keyword you are focusing on in your content—ideally toward the beginning of your meta description.

Make it unique. Don’t recycle the same old meta description for every blog you post; Google hates redundancy!

Those are the basics. Writing meta descriptions doesn’t have to be complicated: Just summarize the value you’re offering to readers, in as action-oriented a way as you can. For assistance, contact the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Essential Traits for Highly Successful Bloggers

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Business owners, do you ever wonder if you truly have what it takes to develop a successful blog—one that garners traffic and increases conversions for your company website? It’s only natural to wonder and perhaps even to doubt; throughout literary history, great authors have struggled with questions about their own worthiness, and while business blogging is different from writing War and Peace, the same principle applies.

Today, we want to offer some reassurance:

  1. First, know that all businesses are capable of developing effective business blogs; there’s no topic too boring, no industry too bland!
  2. Even if you’re not a trained writer, you still have much insight to offer your customers and clients.
  3. If blogging is something that completely eludes you, or if you don’t have the time you need to invest in really getting it right, there is always ghostblogging and content marketing agencies.

With all that said, it’s worth pausing for a moment to take stock of your own blogging propensities, and to evaluate whether you have the skills and characteristics needed to be great at blogging. If you have all of the traits listed below, then we would encourage you to try business blogging; if not, then we’d recommend either working to develop them, or outsourcing to us!

  • Great bloggers are attentive. They keep tabs on what their readers like and don’t; what they respond to and what they are indifferent toward. Blogging means constantly monitoring your efforts and tweaking as needed.
  • Great bloggers are confident in who they are and what they do; they are able to write authentically and passionately about the benefits they can offer to readers and to customers.
  • Great bloggers can be dramatic, too—they know how to create headlines and titles that immediately attract attention.
  • Great bloggers are organized, and can lay out their points in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow.
  • Great bloggers are tenacious, willing to consistently post new content on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Great bloggers are ultimately service-oriented, and know that what they do needs to provide something truly helpful to readers; mere self-promotion will never do.

How do you stack up? Do you have these critical blogging skills mastered, or is there still room for improvement? We’re happy to help however we can; just contact the Grammar Chic team today to learn more!

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Are Your Blog Posts Readable?

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Last week, the Grammar Chic, Inc. team offered a few tips for businesses just getting into the blogging routine. Today, we’re going to hone in on an important concept for new and seasoned business bloggers alike—the concept of readability.

Obviously, you want your blog to offer value, you want it to be interesting to read, and you want it to cast your business in the best light possible. All of that is predicated on your blog being approachable, accessible even to lay people. After all, if reading your blog is nightmarishly difficult, headache-inducing, or just flat-out impossible, then it’s ultimately just a waste of your time and effort.

In other words, your blog should be for readers, not for you—but how can you ensure that your blog can, in fact, be read and enjoyed by lay people?

Missing the Forest for the Trees

You know your business better than your customers do—at least, we hope you do! If you’re the company’s owner, you know it better than anyone in the world. You’re likely brimming over with insights into your industry and vertical, as well—but that can be sort of a mixed blessing when it comes to blogging. You can become so bogged down in the minutiae of your business, with insider perspectives and little technicalities, that you miss the big picture and bypass the things your readers really care about. You can miss the forest for the trees.

The first step toward readability, then, is stepping outside of Business Owner mode, and putting yourself in the mindset of your customers and clients. What questions do they have? What aspects of your company are truly relevant to them? What do they need to know to get more out of your products, or to feel confident buying from you in the first place? What problems do they need solved? Buyer personas may be helpful here, but even if you don’t have time for that, do make sure you think in terms of consumer value, not the nuts-and-bolts stuff that only you really care about.

Formatting Matters, Too

Good, readable blogs are value-focused, consumer-oriented, and devoid of technical talk and jargon—but they’re also well formatted. You can have a really accessible bit of content, and totally ruin it by presenting it as one epically long, unbroken paragraph—something that’s just a pain to read.

To ensure that your content is actually easy to digest, keep in mind the following:

  • When applicable, numbers and bullet points help to break up paragraph-after-paragraph monotony.
  • Section subheadings and images can also be great ways to separate your content into digestible chunks; your subheadings will also be useful for skimmers.
  • Online attention spans are usually less than stellar, so make a substantive point without rambling too much.
  • Keeping each blog post to a single point is the best way to make it digestible and memorable.

Again: Put yourself in the shoes of an average reader. Think about the kinds of blog posts that you would actually read, and perhaps even enjoy—and use that to guide you.

To learn more about the best blogging techniques, don’t hesitate to contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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